How to Access Military Records for Free

By Kathleen Odenthal
Learn how to find documents pertaining to your loved ones who have served in the armed forces.

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Archives.org is the leading site providing veterans with military records. Through this website, members of the military can access their records online through their secure search engine database, or they can find ways to obtain their records through other means. In order to access records online, you must provide substantial proof of identity, which protects your information from falling into the wrong hands. For those who choose to work offline, this site provides methods for obtaining the information through the United States Postal Service. These records are free for veterans, next of kin and all authorized representatives.

Accessing Military Records Online

Go to archives.org. Click on "Veteran's Service Records."

Click on "Request records online with eVetRecs."

Click on the link that allows you to access the eVetRec system online. You can also choose to download the form if you are not comfortable with submitting this information electronically, or if you want to keep a copy for your own records.

Click "Continue" after you have read the privacy act that appears once you load the eVetRec system.

Fill out the form that appears after the privacy agreement. Select whether you are the veteran or next of kin, your relationship to the veteran and what type of information you are requesting. Click "Continue". Then choose the branch of service, the service component, the veteran's position, the category for the request and the subcategory for the previous choice. Click "Continue" once the form is completed.

Fill in all personal information pertaining to the veteran, including name, social security number, birthday, service number and dates of service. Click "Continue" once the form is completed. Select the documents you are requesting on the final page, then click "Continue" to request those documents.

Requesting Military Records by Mail

Download and print a copy of the SF-180 document. This document is available at archives.org if you do not already have a copy of the form. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the form if downloaded from archives.org.

Fill out the form completely. Necessary information includes branch of service, date of entry into service, date of departure from service, officer's name and service number.

Check which documents you would like to request on the form. Available documents include the DD form 214 and the veteran's medical records. You can also choose to request all documents pertaining to the veteran if you would like.

Specify the purpose of the request, then state your relationship to the veteran. Choose the address at which you wish to receive the documents.

Use the chart on the second page of the form to find the specific address for mailing. Each military branch has a unique address where they can process these requests. Find the branch of service the person served in, then make note of both the personal record number and the service treatment number listed.

Use the numbers from step five to find the address to which you should send the request form. All of the addresses are listed on the last page of the form. To the left of each address is a reference number which corresponds with the numbers on the second page of the form. Find the address with the number that was listed next to your specific branch on page two, then mail the completed form to that address.

About the Author

Kathleen Odenthal began her journalism career in 2010 writing for various websites. She specializes in mental health, nutrition and consumer product reviews and holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Southern California.